YANGON, Myanmar (AA) – The commander-in-chief of Myanmar’s armed forces has said he would welcome a female president, but reiterated support for the country’s military-drafted constitution that bars the country’s female opposition leader from taking the top job.
Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s comments came during a rare press conference ahead of a Nov. 8 general election that is widely expected to be won by the party of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
The general’s comment, however, “serves [little more than] to refurbish the military’s image,” Khin Zaw Win of the Tampadipa Institute, a think tank based in Yangon, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
“Min Aung Hlaing can say that because it doesn’t mean anything for the present elections. Aung San Suu Kyi is effectively out,” he added.
Even if Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) secures enough seats to choose a president, she will not be eligible for the job due to a clause in the country’s charter bars anyone with foreign relatives from being leader. Her two sons are British.
Despite that, Aung Hlaing welcomed the prospect of a female president.
“I welcome them. Whether man or woman,” he told local and international journalists at the conference, held in a military compound in the capital Nay Pyi Taw .
As well as barring Suu Kyi from the presidency, the 2008 charter gives the military an effective veto over any constitutional change.
Suu Kyi, often referred to as “the Lady” by her admirers, last year led a petition campaign to amend the charter and gathered 5 million signatures, the NLD said.
But the military has refused to give up its veto power.
Min Aung Hlaing also repeated a pledge at the press conference Monday that the military would not interfere with the result of the election, the Irrawaddy news website reported.
“There were two coups in the country, in 1962 and 1988. They were to fill a power vacuum at that time,” he said. “But I personally dislike military takeovers. In short, I have no plans for a military coup and the military has no plans for it.”
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